Themed Book Lists
This morning at a wonderful staff appreciation breakfast hosted by our dedicated Board of Library Trustees, Trustee Ann Noyes had an excellent question for the staff and trustees present: If you were on a deserted island and could only have the books of one author with you, which author would you choose? We each wrote our answer on a post-it and took turns guessing who picked each author. We had so much fun, we wanted to share this list with you! The recommendations will remain anonymous, in the spirit of the guessing game, but if there’s an author you’d like to know more about, feel free to ask any of the staff!
- Jennifer Donnelly
The person who chose this author explained that her all-time favorite book is The Tea Rose, though she has enjoyed others by this author, too. Many of her books are historical fiction, so if this is a genre you enjoy or are looking to read more of, give Jennifer Donnelly a try!
- Shirley Jackson
Many people know this author best for her chilling short story “The Lottery,” which many of us agreed felt like a precursor to The Hunger Games, but the person who chose this author also enjoys her novels for their creepy atmosphere and twisty plots. If you enjoy classic suspense, check out Shirley Jackson’s books!
- James Patterson
From a survivalist point of view, James Patterson is the best answer to this question because he has an almost endless number of published books–including picture books, chapter books and graphic novels for kids and teens, and fiction and non-fiction for adults–offering not only a wide range of entertainment, but also a huge quantity of paper, which could be a valuable survival supply when stuck on an island. Message in a bottle, anyone? With such a variety, James Patterson has something for everyone, so if you’ve never read one of his books, perhaps now is the time to try one out!
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The person who picked this author explained that, while perhaps not her all-time favorite, she would want lighter reading if stranded alone on an island, and she felt these romance novels would do the trick. Besides, she wanted to stump the librarians and trustees who would be trying to guess whose book this is, and she succeeded! For a good time, consider a book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips!
- Anna Quindlen
The person who chose this author has enjoyed her writing for many years. Quindlen offers a mix of novels and memoirs, both genres focusing on the everyday lives of ordinary women. More recently, Quindlen has written warmly and humorously about growing older, and many of her books would be good for lightening the mood on a lonely island. If you enjoy everyday stories that involve humor, take a look at at Anna Quindlen!
- R.L. Stine
The person who chose this author loved these kids’ horror books as a child–and another person chimed in to say that not only were they the only books her brother would read as a kid, but they were the only books so absorbing that she could read them in the car without getting carsick! There are so many that they’d offer plenty of amusement to bust the boredom of being stranded alone on an island. Whether you’re young or young at heart, if you like goofy horror, you might read some R.L. Stine… if you dare!
- Leo Tolstoy
The person who picked this author explained that she’s always been a fan of the classics, especially those from the 19th century–she also reminded us that she was an English major! Many of us had read and enjoyed Anna Karenina, though the person who chose this author has enjoyed many of his long novels–perfect for passing the empty hours when stuck on a deserted island! If you’re looking for a classic author (or if you enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow and are looking for more family sagas set in Russia, check out Leo Tolstoy!
- Mark Twain
We had a second English major who also loves the classics, and her pick was Mark Twain! While he’s mostly known for his humorous novels like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the person who picked Twain said she most enjoys his essays, which remain relevant to contemporary times. If you haven’t read Mark Twain since high school, maybe now is the time to revisit his works!
- White Eagle
The works of White Eagle are all channeled material, spiritual in nature. The person who chose these works felt they would be as sustaining and interesting in seclusion as they are in everyday life. For something a little off the beaten path, check out the works of White Eagle!
- Connie Willis
The only science fiction author on this list (though she also writes realistic fiction and short stories, including a couple of excellent Christmas collections), Willis is a favorite author of one person at this morning’s breakfast for her humor and for her very relatable characters. Plus, this author has published many works, which would provide plenty of entertainment on a deserted island. Moreover, escaping from various situations is a theme of many of her novels, so perhaps these books would inspire a rescue plan. If you enjoy time travel and detailed storytelling, give Connie Willis a try!
The Internet and cats may go together like peanut butter and jelly, but there are some great books out there for cat lovers, too. Do you have a favorite book that’s not on the list? We’re always taking suggestions! Email me at email@example.com and I’ll post it as an extra to this list.
- Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa.
This international bestseller from Japan tells a heartwarming story about the power of kindness. Told from Nana the cat’s point of view, this story follows Nana and her owner as they travel around Japan by van, visiting old friends.
- A Street Cat Named Bob and How He Saved My Life by James Bowen.
Moving from Japan to England, the author recounts how, as a desperately struggling musician, he encountered a very ill stray cat and couldn’t help but take him in, even though he was struggling to feed himself. This story was such a hit that it spawned not only sequels and a children’s book but also a movie–which you can also borrow from the library!
- Talk to the Paw by Melinda Metz.
Romance meets felines in this fun tale (tail?) of a woman and her cat, MacGyver, who is determined to set her up with a handsome neighbor by stealing various possessions of his. The humans have ideas of their own, though, and it will take a little more than a cat’s intervention to get things started for this couple.
- The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers.
This memoir of a man who is given a kitten when he doesn’t even like cats turns into a chronicle of their travels around the world and includes encounters with such personalities as Roman Polanski and Harrison Ford. The good news? If you like this, there are two more books about Peter and Norman’s life together.
- Claw the System: Poems from the Cat Uprising by Francesco Mariuliano.
This collection of poems, ostensibly by cats, is the newest work from the author of I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats (also available from the library). These poems are sure to get you laughing! Covering topics such as jealousy of other pets, hatred of cat clothing, and the desire to knock things over, this collection is a must-read.
- Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper.
The author of this book already had two cats but when her vet called about a three-week-old eyeless kitten in need of a home, she couldn’t resist. Despite other people’s dire predictions of the kitten’s limitations, he surpassed all expectations, and Homer and Gwen formed a strong, lasting bond.
This book is an affirming reminder that different abilities do not have to hold us back.
- Parisian Cats by Olivia Kiang-Snaije.
This book is mostly fun for its beautiful color photos of felines around Paris. It combines armchair travel with cute cats and is especially nice to curl up with on a wintry night when you want some simple diversion.
- The True Tails of Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town… And the World by Jan Louch.
Travel to a very small-town library in western Nevada to meet Baker and Taylor, a pair of Scottish Folds who become the mascots for the library and for the community–as well as controlling the library’s mouse problem!
- Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.
No mention of library cat books would be complete without this heartwarming story of a cat who, as a kitten, was left in a library book return overnight and was lucky to survive in the cold–and not to be crushed by returned books Instead, the feisty feline finds a forever home in the library.
- Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Miranda James.
If you want a side of cozy mystery with your tales of library cats, check out this book, the first in a series, that chronicles the crime-solving adventures of Maine Coon cat Diesel and his owner, Charlie, a librarian and sleuth.
- Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss.
If you are interested in a less cozy murder mysteries involving cats, check out this somewhat odd novel by the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, in which a librarian trying to investigate the death of his wife discovers a talking cat who may be implicated in the crime.
- Cat Zero by Jennifer Rohn.
For people who enjoy both cats and science fiction, this may be right up your alley! It follows a scientist studying an obscure cat virus. When the virus goes epidemic, she joins forces with some unusual characters to try to get to the bottom of the mystery.
- Downton Tabby by Chris Kelly.
This book is exactly what it looks like: a parody of t.v.’s huge hit, Downton Abbey, with an all-feline cast. It’s good clean fun and a light read, right for any occasion.
Not all of these books are directly related to Hanukkah, but they all speak in some way to the Jewish experience. Click on any of the titles below to see them in our online catalog, where you can request them. Don’t see your favorite Hanukkah book here? We’re always taking suggestions! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post it as an extra to this list.
- Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Megan Hart, Jennifer Gracen, Stacey Agdern, and KK Hendin.
Warm up during this chilly time of year with these romantic novellas about falling in love during the Festival of Lights.
- Hanukkah in America by Dianne Ashton.
Booklist gave this book a starred review, remarking, “Religiously, Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish festival. Ashton’s wonderfully readable, fact-packed history demonstrates, however, that in the U.S., Hanukkah isn’t minor at all. From at least the middle of the nineteenth century, it has been a vehicle for asserting solidarity among a never-large American minority and establishing that minority’s credentials as faithful Americans as well as faithful Jews.”
- Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir by Amy Kurzweil.
This graphic memoir tells the story of three generations of Jewish women, alternating mainly between the author’s experiences in her search for a Jewish identity and her grandmother’s Holocaust experiences.
- The Worlds We Think We Know by Dalia Rosenfeld.
According to Kirkus reviews, this book offers “[s]tories about Jewish life in all its painful absurdity in the United States and in Israel,” adding that “Rosenfeld’s debut book of stories is funny, touching, awkward, and wry.” These short stories are ideal for the busy holiday season, when many of us only have a few minutes here and there to take a break into a book.
- Sons of the 613 by Michael Rubens.
According to Publishers Weekly, “channels 1980s teen movies in his outlandish YA debut about what happens when the parents are away. Isaac, a superb student, loyal Dungeons and Dragons player, and one of the few Jews in his small Midwestern town, fails to tell his parents that his Hebrew tutor has neglected to show up for weeks. He’s thus woefully unprepared for his bar mitzvah, and when his parents travel to Italy, they leave him in the hands of his comically terrifying older brother, Josh: jock, bar brawler, and “SuperJew” (the kind that wears a skull-and-crossbones yarmulke). Josh decides that Isaac needs a “real” education, and they embark on a series of adventures designed to make Isaac a man.”
- Jewish Holiday Treats by Joan Zoloth.
This book offers recipes for a wide variety of Jewish holidays, Hanukkah included. The chapter on Hanukkah includes classics like latkes and even a recipe for making your own gelt as well as instructions on how to play the dreidel game.
- The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme by Marge Piercy.
According to Booklist, “Piercy has assembled new and selected poems that reflect Jewish life as she has known it, both in the bosom of her family and out in a world hostile to the tradition. Piercy writes both of an inherited sense of Jewishness and of a faith she has come to live within.”
- The Day the Rabbi Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of Magic retold by Howard Schwartz, illustrated by Monique Passicot.
Revisit or discover several traditional Jewish tales for a variety of holidays, including Hanukkah. Whether you’re looking for stories to share with the whole family or for an escape from reality into fairy tale, this collection is sure to delight.